I’ve thought more about what my life really looks like this past week than I have in total the past 37 years and I have to admit, it has been both inspiring and depressing. I’ve been keeping mental track of all of the accomplishments I achieve in one single day and after totaling them up, I seriously feel like I deserve a medal. I’ve also kept track of the number of times I was impatient, raised my voice, or focused more on anything other than my children. (Okay, you can have the medal back.)
Aside from not having any uninterrupted time (now both of my kids are sick), I have struggled with how to write this piece, going back and forth on the difference between who I am as a person vs. what my life looks like. Let’s be honest, what I hope for each morning and what actually happens that day are often two very different things. What I feel on the inside compared to what my facial expression, hair, or outfit reveals are also probably two very different things.
One afternoon at a baby shower, this woman whom I had just met asked me how long it took to do my hair that day. She was surprised to hear that I hadn’t washed it in 3 days and the only thing I had done that morning was brush it. I remember walking to my car feeling judged. Do people look at me and assume I take a lot of time to get ready every day? Do I look like someone who spends all of her time primping herself? I drove home feeling not as great as I thought I looked when I arrived: pregnant with Ruby in a pretty maxi.
I’m quite certain she felt bad about her tone and tried to make up for it by seeming extra interested in my conversation. This didn’t occur to me until I got home and went over every single detail of the day, and though I appreciated her effort, the more I got to thinking about it, the more upset I became. What if I had spent hours on my hair that morning?
My mom always told me those that judge are jealous. It’s been a helpful reminder through my years. It has also helped me reevaluate the kind of person I portray, because (unfortunately) it is in my character to care what other people think. If I feel I have offended someone, I go to great lengths to either apologize or make sure I was properly understood. If I’m wronged, I wear my feelings on the sleeve of my new sweater, tee-shirt, and nightgown until either they apologize or my husband reminds me how to have thicker skin. At that point, time and multiple glasses of wine swoop in to save me.
So what does my life really look like? I’ve debated on whether it was even important enough to share. Not my life itself, but the sharing of it in general. I’ve decided that it wasn’t. That by doing so, I would just be feeding into both my own insecurities and the notion that what people put out in the world is NOT what their life actually looks like! Then again, I have spent all of this time thinking about it…
So what does my life look like? I would say on most days, it looks organized. As the SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), and let’s not forget wife, I am responsible for the clean house, a stocked fridge, paid and filed bills, clean, folded, & put-away laundry, properly dressed, fed, and taken-care-of children, and a full social calendar. I take pride in this role and wake up each morning hoping to kick it’s butt with a cup of coffee in my hand.
I carry a notebook around everywhere I go with my daily lists of things I want to accomplish, along with weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. I have a chalkboard in my kitchen with our weekly dinner menu, mainly because I got tired of asking myself why I bought this now moldy zucchini anyway? My house is always picked-up and if it isn’t I. Go. Nuts. I can’t enjoy my morning coffee if the pillows aren’t in their proper place and the throw blanket folded and draped at an angle over the back of the couch. I can’t get dressed without my bed being made or start dinner with dirty dishes in the sink. So on and so forth.
My car is never a mess, my closet always neat and tidy, and toys are always hidden from sight when not in use. When I leave the house everyday, my kids and I are always dressed in cute outfits, our hair styled, and our happy faces on. I haven’t had to experience a public melt-down yet, though I’m expecting I’ll get one out of Ruby sooner or later, and I can easily take them anywhere with confidence they will either behave or fall asleep.
I don’t have family in town or a regular babysitter, so I do all of the cleaning and chores with them. I either give them a dust rag or pacify them with a movie. I usually have a glass of wine in my hand by 5, dinner on the table by 6, and our bedtime routine of bath & books starts for Ruby at 6:30 and Jackson around eight. They both fall asleep on their own and in their own beds. The rest of the night my husband and I spend time together either watching a movie, reading a book, or one of us getting out of the house to meet up with friends.
What does my life feel like? Some days, it feels like any minute I could lose my mind. I have a love/hate relationship with my need to always have my house in order. I love that it is but hate that I can’t function when it’s not. I often stare at the pile of bills and wish they would pay themselves. I hate trying to figure out what to make for dinner every week and often get overwhelmed at the grocery store because I feel like I’m bouncing from one side of the store to the next, despite my list being organized by aisle. I sometimes avoid the laundry until Mondays and then spend that entire day questioning why my husband had to wear so many shirts last week?
Some days we don’t leave the house, which means I’m probably in pajamas, as are my children.
I say “come on” all the time, even if it’s to take them to their own bathroom break. I wipe down the counter more than necessary and make my kids wait patiently for me to pick-up each room before we leave it. I’m always walking around with a cup of coffee in my hand that is either providing fuel to keep up with all of my chores or secretly making me even crazier. Some days, I conquer everything on my to-do list and other days I cross them off anyway and write them down for the following day. It’s my way of feeling victorious and scheduled despite reality.
I have episodes of always being at Target or the mall but can also go weeks without going to either. (Our bank account reflects which week is which. It also reflects which week we make it to a park.) I don’t always think about my children because I am a very selfish human being, but try to balance it out by making sure they have food, water, and air to breathe. It seems to work. (Did I mention I don’t have family in town or a regular babysitter?)
Dinner is usually what I have scheduled on the menu, but sometimes it’s not because I. Didn’t. Feel. Like. Cooking. So instead we order in or scrounge for food in the fridge. Bedtime routine starts for Ruby at 6:30 and Jackson around 7:45. They both fall asleep on their own and in their own beds. (Hey, we worked hard at sleep training and nothing is going to get in our way!) Most nights after our kids are in bed, my husband and I are so exhausted we both end up doing our own thing in separate rooms. Occasionally we sit side-by-side on the couch without saying a word while staring at the screen. And if I have scheduled a night out, which I try to do at least once or twice a month, I make sure I look damn good, even though my hair probably hasn’t been washed for 5 days and I only had 15 minutes to throw an outfit together.
Like my late Grandma Ruby used to say, a little lipstick goes a long way…
So, next time you find yourself saying, “Oh that is so not what her life looks like all the time!” know that your friend would most definitely agree with you! Instead, try and be happy for her moment of Facebook glory and move on. If you find there are so many of them you want to puke, you are probably just, well, jealous.
Fake it till you make it mommies!